By Justin Bochmann, Midstate Regional Compliance Manager. -
CIFAC Regional Compliance Managers work tirelessly to promote job opportunities for California public works contractors. This is done through many avenues, which include ensuring legal compliance, promoting government transparency, assisting industry partners, and guiding public agencies to do the right thing. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to have an everlasting effect which will yield many years of future work being competitively bid. A surefire way to accomplish this is by influencing policy change.
Late last year, Midstate Regional Compliance Manager Justin Bochmann began an investigation into the Lockeford Community Services District’s Community Memorial Park project. After a thorough review, it was determined that the District violated Public Contract Code § 20682.5 by failing to competitively bid the project. The District instead, negotiated nearly $900,000 worth of work with a private contractor, which grossly exceeded the District’s $25,000 bid threshold. The project was already complete by the time Bochmann caught wind of the issues, leaving CIFAC with few options, short of a lawsuit. After consulting with CIFAC’s legal counsel, it was determined that a lawsuit would not offer any return to industry contractors by way of job creation for this project, so Bochmann and Executive Director Tucker made a strategic decision to press the issue of competitively bidding all future work in excess of $25,000. Since the District had never passed a resolution creating their own procurement policy, CIFAC firmly insisted that this happen. After educating the District on the bid requirements and pressure from CIFAC, this was finally addressed and a policy was created and adopted by the Board of Directors.
Even though public agencies must abide by Public Contract Code requirements, regardless of whether they have adopted their own procurement policy, the act of passing this sort of resolution publicly offers another layer of protection for securing a level playing field and transparency. Not only are the Board of Directors and District staff held accountable for complying with general state laws, but by way of resolution, they must now adhere to their own rulebook. If they fail to do so, they may face heavier consequences within their own agency and by the taxpayers who vote them in. With more put on the line, public leaders are forced to walk a tighter rope which fares very well in reducing favoritism on public works construction projects. Please notify CIFAC if you notice an agency awarding a public works contract without competitive bidding.